Tag Archives: History of Ye Olde Oak

From little acorns: Ye Olde Oak

Ye Olde Oak is the leading hot dog brand in Britain.

Origins of the business
Robert J Smith (born 1832) was a cattle dealer from Boston, Lincolnshire. He had relocated to Liverpool, which was a leading hub for the cattle trade, by 1871.

Rowland James Smith (1864 – 1926) succeeded his father as head of the business. Operations were transferred to London.

Frank Rowland Smith (1894 – 1945) joined his father and the firm began to trade as Rowland Smith & Son.

An extensive trade in fresh meat from Europe was developed.

Trade in processed meat begins; Ye Olde Oak brand is introduced
The British government established a trade embargo on fresh pork from mainland Europe in 1926. As a result, Rowland Smith & Son developed a large trade in imported Dutch bacon. From around this time the business also began to import tinned meat.

The Ye Olde Oak brand was first registered for tinned meats in 1933.

Frank Rowland Smith had entered into retirement by 1939, and he was succeeded by his two sons, Robert Frank Rowland Smith (1902 – 1968) and Rowland William Smith.

Ye Olde Oak became the first canned meat brand in Britain to be advertised on colour television in 1956.

Ye Olde Oak became the major tinned ham brand in Britain, with one third of the market by 1973.

Struik Foods of the Netherlands began to supply Rowland Smith & Son with frankfurters from 1979.

Rowland Smith & Son is acquired by Hans Struik
Hans Struik (born 1940) acquired Rowland Smith & Son in 1984.

The company name was changed to Ye Olde Oak Ltd from 1985.

Ye Olde Oak hot dogs were found to contain just 50 percent meat, but less than that when collagens and fat were excluded, according to an investigation by The Food Commission in 2005.

Ye Olde Oak tinned ham was found to contain 37 percent water and just 55 percent meat, according to a study conducted by Which? magazine in 2005.

This article was produced with kind assistance from Rowland James Smith.